Diablo Mesa by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child aka Preston & Child is the fourth Nora Kelly mystery novel. Preston & Child are great storytellers and Diablo Mesa features a very original plot and characters that keep the reader interested. Its weakness is one I commented on when reviewing the third Nora Kelly mystery: it is hard to tell the difference between Nora Kelly and FBI agent Corrie Swanson as lead characters.
Nora Kelly is more or less forced out of her job at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute when she refuses to do a dig at Area 51. Ironically, the sponsor of the dig, billionaire Lucas Tappan then convinces her to head the dig at Roswell. When two corpses are found near the dig site FBI agent Corrie Swanson is called in to investigate.
You just know that thought the government allowed the dig at Area 51 is is not going to let it go smoothly. The reader soon learns there is a mole both within the archaeological team and within the FBI. Evidence is destroyed and a scientist goes missing.
To enjoy Diablo Mesa by Lincoln & Child the reader has to buy the whole Area 51 premise. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child use just enough of the elements to keep the reader interested without requiring too much willing suspension of disbelief. In other words, it is easy for the reader to buy the premise of the archaeological dig. At first.
The last third of Diablo Mesa moves at a furious pace. Lincoln & Child have, in the past, asked their reader for a great dose of willing suspension of disbelief. They ask for a lot more of it here. If you buy the story and history the authors are selling Diablo Mesa turns into an excellent SF thriller. If you do not, well, you’ll just be shaking your head wondering why you invested time and effort in what seemed to be a mystery novel.
Personally, I kind of bought the science fiction aspect of Diablo Mesa enough to enjoy it. Will I be going back to it? Probably not.
A Nora Kelly mystery novel
Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing 2022
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